We’ll get to the NON-Trumpcare-implosion-related news of the week in a moment; but first, let’s have a little GIF party to celebrate the death of a bill that would have let companies sell you insurance that wouldn’t cover the EMERGENCY ROOM.
Let’s not get TOO carried away, though: We still have a President who proposed a budget that would decimate programs that disproportionately benefit women, who wants to push through tax cuts that would benefit gazillionaires at the expense of middle- and working-class people, and who has nominated an extremist in silver fox’s clothing, Neil Gorsuch, for a lifetime appointment to the US Supreme Court.
As Democrats in the US Senate hem and haw over whether, and how hard, they’re going to filibuster Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the US Supreme Court, let’s take a moment to look at what Gorsuch’s record says about his views on choice–and a few cases that could end up on his docket if, as is almost certain, he becomes the next Supreme Court Justice.
It’s hard to believe this is an actual headline in twenty-motherloving-seventeen, but this is the world we live in now: “Will Gorsuch send women to jail for abortion?” The Hill asks. Their conclusion: Probably!
After all, the writers note, “Gorsuch has demonstrated he will go to extraordinary lengths to block women’s access to basic reproductive health care, even under current jurisprudence. His prior ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby, which allowed the company to deny its employees coverage for contraception, his decision to side with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s effort to defund Planned Parenthood, and his writings that criticize the constitutional principles underlying reproductive rights all suggest he would not uphold Roe, if confirmed.”
Talking Points Memo highlights the fact that Gorsuch continuously stonewalled a Democratic Senator who tried to pin him down on privacy rights, the linchpin of Roe v. Wade, rather than say whether he the court had ruled correctly in several precedent-setting cases. First, Gorsuch refused to say whether he agreed with Griswold v. Connecticut, the case that enshrined the right to privacy by invalidating bans on the use of contraception by married couples. Then he declined to say whether the court was correct in overturning bans on interracial marriage and eliminating laws that criminalized consensual sex between same-sex couples—both of which rely on the same privacy protections as Roe v. Wade.
“’You’re declining to be more direct and give the same answers about these cases as you did about Brown leaves doubt in the minds of millions of Americans who rely on privacy rights. They are relying right now. And I think that that doubt is regrettable,’ Blumenthal said.
“But Gorsuch, redrawing the same line he had all week long, said that commenting on them in this context would hinder his abilities as a judge.”
Bloomberg pulls the lens back even further on the Gorsuch appointment, reminding readers that even if the Supreme Court, with Gorsuch as its newest member, does not overturn Roe v. Wade directly, it can still wreak plenty of havoc on abortion rights. Indeed, since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, states have passed dozens of new abortion restrictions, any one of which could end up before the Court, which can rule and set precedent even in the absence of a ruling definitively overturning Roe. “The court can thus see-saw back and forth on abortion decisions as conservative justices replace liberals, and liberals conservatives,” Bloomberg reports.
In the past few weeks, at least two states have passed precedent-shattering laws that could soon start working their way through the courts. The first is a Texas law that would protect doctors who withhold information about severe fetal abnormalities based on their belief that knowing about such abnormalities would cause a woman or couple to choose abortion. Specifically, Rolling Stone reports, it eliminates withholding information regarding fetal health as a cause of action in “wrongful birth” lawsuits, giving anti-choice doctors a pass to coercively convince patients that they will give birth to healthy babies, preventing them from making informed decisions about whether to go forward with a pregnancy.
The second, also from Texas, will (if it passes) require women who think they may need abortion care in the future to purchase separate insurance to cover abortions. In practical terms, since unintended pregnancy is by definition unintended, the bill would eliminate insurance coverage for abortion. (Imagine if you had to purchase separate insurance for a specific disease you were unlikely to ever contract, or coverage for a specific type of accident). The Texas Tribune reports that the bill’s prime sponsor “was inspired to push the measure because of his daughter’s recent pregnancy. He recently welcomed a new grandson born with Down syndrome and heart problems. When his daughter found out what her baby’s condition would be, he said, she knew she would not have an abortion. Taylor says his daughter’s situation is why he believes women know deep down if they would want to keep or terminate a pregnancy.”
Finally, in Oklahoma, the House just passed a bill banning all abortions based on birth defects or fetal abnormalities, forcing women who become pregnant with fetuses that will be severely disabled or die shortly after birth to carry through with those pregnancies even if it dooms infants to a short life of extreme suffering or if the woman can’t afford to care for an extremely disabled child, Public Radio Tulsa reports.